sacred space

When Ignatius Loyola went to the University of Paris, a group of young men gathered round him. What did he do? He taught them to pray, in the shape that came to be known as the Spiritual Exercises. Because Ignatius had been a remarkable soldier, people sometimes think of the Jesuits he founded as a sort of army. In fact what united them was not any sort of military discipline, but a shared experience of the Spiritual Exercises. Many other unexpected Christians shared that experience. Baxter, a Puritan contemporary of Cromwell, said he was converted by reading and praying his way through a dog-eared copy of the Exercises. In the 1800s, Russian Orthodox Christians made the same discovery. In the 1900s it was an Anglican who produced one of the best editions of the book.

When we turn to God in personal prayer centred on Jesus, the walls that divide the Christian churches melt away. We find that we can pray together. The secret history of the church is not in the councils, doctrines, crusades or bishops, still less in churches or cathedrals, but in the body of Christians who pray to the Father through Jesus Christ his son: what you might call the contemplative tradition, where men and women share a Sacred Space.

From the Irish website Sacred Space, which follows up this thought with an invitation to actually pray and a guide to help with it.

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